This was a show that started off with good promise, but got bogged down in details, so that it lost a huge amount of steam in the process. “Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend” (“Saenai Hiroin no Sodatekata” “How to Train the Ordinary Girl to be a Heroine”), tells the story of Tomoya Aki. He is a textbook nerd otaku, as he also has a blog where he reviews EVERYTHING: mangas, animes, video games. I think he even rates the figurines that one can get as well. His life is wholly, solely devoted to this, and he practically has no time for anything else…except his part-time job to fund all of this madness.
But he has dreams and hopes and ideas and what he wants to do is make a visual novel computer game, but not any VN game; it has to be the Greatest Game Ever for Eternity! This is fueled by a vision of a beautiful girl he saw at the top of a hill, cherry blossoms fluttering about her. Well, he is an idea man, but is skint on being able to produce what he wants. To this end, he enlists the help of several girl supports, for script and art design and music and whatnot. Two of them are in his class, so he tries to inveigle school beauties Eriri Spencer Sawamura (left) for designing the artwork and visual approach, and Utaha Kasumigoaka (right) for writing the game scenario.
He forms this little group, calling it Blessing Software, and as it putters along, Tomoya then learns about the girl he saw on the hill, classmate Megumi Kato. He gets her to star as the “heroine” (the main character’s love interest) of his game. The series follows their adventures in developing the game and their plans to sell it at the Comiket Convention. Oh, he also manages to rope into this Michiru Hyodo. She is a cousin and plays for a band and Tomoya wants her to write the music for this venture.
Now, we have all the players in position, let’s go out and make a game! Well, it’s harder than it looks, as there is huge amounts of resistance to this plan and all of these people have better things to do than squander their time in this venture. A lot of the show’s energy is expended with Tomoya exhorting everyone to get on the bandwagon, get with the program and get cracking with the effort. But these people have their own lives (which are revealed during the run and are key plot points) and are the type that don’t like to be prodded or pushed, despite the looming deadline.
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and regardless of the initial good idea, a lot of the show slowed to a virtual crawl and it got way too prolix in Tomoya’s efforts and his almost-defense of what he does and why he does it. The show really didn’t gain some degree of interest and speed until near the end, with the arrival of Michiru, who really lit a fire under everyone, despite not wishing to write and/or play the music for the game. The open-door ending means that a second season is under consideration.
For me, this show was just a lot of work, as we had to delve into the personalities and relationships of all of these people in rather minute detail. Yes, it does help to understand the motivations of all of these folks, but it just became too much and I nearly bailed on the show. I remained with it, but I just do not feel it was handled well enough for the light or casual viewer to want to stay the course. I have to give a conditional review of it, suggesting you watch it if there really is nothing else totally on for you. Who knows, you might fare better than I did. Oh, and there is a #0 episode that I suggest that you watch first, as it acts as a prologue to the series and introduces you to the characters you will be meeting. This also has the option of being viewed after Episode 12 and can be a caliber of epilog, as it can work just as well.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Everyone has to look sharp, sharp, sharp)
Plot 6 (Tepid execution)
Pacing 7 (Moves along consistently)
Effectiveness 6 (Run hot and cold)
Conclusion 6 (It reaches a ‘coupler’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 6 (A lot of slack points)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Will you work with me on this?